Nelson Election 2018: All Candidates Wildfire Forum

Oct 16, 2018 09:09 · 3837 words · 19 minute read politics Area E

These are my notes from the All Candidate Wildfire Forum held at the United Church on October 15th 2018. They are not “complete” nor should they be considered exact words, there is lots of paraphrasing. If you see an error or would like to add more information, please contact me.

Moderator: Keith Wiley

Format: Introductions (random seating) 1min, Straw Poll, Greg Utzig Climate Change Presentation, Debate on 5 resolutions


  • Jesse Woodward: recognised an amazing power in community while running the eco society and his event work.
  • Janice Morrison: Castlerock Bed and Breakfast; healthy positive and sustainable growth; responsibility to protect for future generations
  • Charles Jeanes: Can’t tell you much important in 60 seconds; “What’s On Today” Nelson Becker’s paper;
  • Margaret Stacey: member of congregation here at united; need, greed and technology got us in, and need to get us out of this problem; collaboration needs to be the answer & new technology;
  • Bob Adams: director of works until 2005; worked for the town for over 40 years; infrastructure issues
  • Stephanie Wiggans: Born in Prince Rupert; works with children as ECE; need to be responsible for future generations so we leave them something here; interested in sustainable building (went to school for it)
  • Rik Logtenberg: Deeply concerned about climate change, that’s the reason he’s running; spent much time thanking everyone + first to thank Greg; “call me”
  • Cal Renwick: talked most about his family; “climate control” to pass this planet along in good shape. 37 yrs at nelson Toyota; started nelson Alzheimer association
  • Joe Reiner: Social service bent, climate change is the issue of our time; dedicated to working with whomever is elected
  • Travis Hauck: from Saskatoon; loves our town and people; avid cyclist;
  • Brian Shields: fighting for environment, responding to spills, wants to highlight a few things we could start tomorrow: ??? control policy; right sizing of all vehicles; change recycling system to bring one truck from town to Growman narrows; – ran out of time
  • Robin Cherbo: transportation and highways; open fiscally responsible council; stands in favour of resolutions for protections of clean air, parks and environment; highlights eco-save program;
  • Deb Kozak: building blocks for the future; 100% renewable Kootenays; citizens climate action lobby (thanked); since 2005 participated in GHG reductions would like to expand; ecosave is a wonderful building block; community solar garden; transportation, regionalised, wouldn’t it be great to have LRT in the Kootenays
  • Robbie Kalabis: Degree in environmental science; wildfire fighter; MoT managing multi-million dollar projects; liaising with all levels of government and non-profit organisations; active transportation; wildfire mitigation needs to liaises with everyone
  • Britney Anderson: past/current member of congregation here; rotary daybreak club went to Ecuador as an exchange student; intern on a farm in India; masters of environmental management and policy
  • Laureen Barker: runs Gia rising; volunteer on credit union board; city council committees (heritage, cult dev, housing); drives a plugin hybrid + electric bike; agrees it’s a serious problem for the world and nelson can be a leader
  • Michelle Hillaby: won the lottery by moving to nelson; coaches soccer; mountain biker; no sports matter unless we deal with our fire concerns
  • Lislie Payne: “we need each other”; public speaking past; “was I well enough prepared”; “deeply committed to this”; “this is the most important conversation in this election cycle”; incredible building blocks in place; peddle down for climate change
  • Keith Page: fire auxiliaries; climate change is a passion for years; loves solving problems; loves to see how different pieces work together; how can we move the needle on the very pressing problem of climate change; we can do what we’re responsible for and we can be a model;
  • John Dooley: thanks Donna, Procter and Love; current council; nelson has been a leader for many many years; second community to sign on to climate action charter in 2003; started the nelson leafs recycling centre, most successful in province per capita; ran out of time

Bernie Brown was not here this evening, although a seat and nametag had been laid out for her.

Straw Poll: test temperature of the room

DO you regularly walk, bike, carpool or drive an electric vehicle? DO you regularly eat local food? ARE you an active member or volunteer with any climate change groups? Do you vacation close to home? DO you have low flow toilets, take short showers and follow water restrictions? ARE you familiar with Nelson’s EcoSave program?

Greg Utzig

Mock Council Meeting

  • 5 resolutions, 4 speakers for each resolution; we will vote and determine if the resolution passes or fails based on audience reaction
  • 90 second answers

Question 1: Protect Taxpayers

BE IT RESOLVED that in order to protect taxpayers from these expenses, Nelson sign on to the campaign to hold the twenty biggest fossil fuel corporations accountable for their share of climate change costs

Rationale: currently nelson taxpayers pay for the heavy costs of climate disruption in our community […] therefore be it resolved.

Provincial campaign that’s been going for some time.

Rik Logtenberg: I believe we should support this because: it’s the political will we’re trying to build, the citizens climate lobby has been successful at lobbying higher levels of governments. As we sign on to a resolution like this, it sends a signal to our higher government bodies. We need to provide this so they can leverage this when they get to parliament or legislature. We’ve seen what E.May can get done, she could do this because of the people in her riding. Those citizens expressed their wills through the city council, and has an enormous amount of impact. As far as holding fossil fuel companies accountable, there’s been success in doing this and getting significant change.

Laureen Barker: It’s about time this came to the floor of this council, past time for large petro companies to pay their share. There’s been obscene profits year after year for over 70 years. It’s about time they’ve paid their fair share of the damage they’ve caused by providing the fuel for us to move around. We shouldn’t be in this position, there’s no point in looking back we must look forward.

John Dooley: This resolution has been floating around for a year or so at different events; as a council we would need some kind of supporting background. I would be very much in favour in it if we have enough information to back it up. The city of nelson from 2008-2013 received for infrastructure rebuild. Received 2.8 million from gas tax fund. That’s just a small example of what council would have to take into account. […] it may impact us, as a council member we need more supporting information to pass something like this, with this information it would be very difficult to support this resolution

Charles Jeanes: Addresses it because it mentions corporations; we have options but the past is not one of them. His message has been the same, he wants to stop or slow down the growth of Nelson. That message has not been received well. If we can’t stop the kind of economy that we’re in, as outlined by the leap manifesto, one of the great leaders bringing this forward is Naomi Klien: this changes everything, capitalism vs climate change. Every one of you can think of some way to pull out a little bit from the capitalist economy. Make [these people here] accountable. Being here isn’t good enough.

Cal Renwick: I just want to point out, that I agree with what Rik Logtenberg said and what John Dooley said. Being new to council that’s what makes it tough. It’s not easy, we might please half the crowd; yeah I’m torn, I think it’s very important, but what John Dooley said is also very important. Sitting up here it scares the hell of me to make a decision about this.

VOTE: Cal Renwick, Keith Page and John Dooley dissenting

Question 2: Renewable Energy Commitment by 2050

Be it resolved that: nelson council direct staff to develop and implement a strategy at the community-level for meeting the 100% renewable energy by 2050 goal. THis plan would be in place by 2020 and include specific milestones for each five year period.

Keith Page: I would like to see us direct nelson hydro and our city staff to figure out a way to exist without fossil fuels before 2050, we’re going to have to expect this. The only way to mitigate this is by getting in front of it. An ounce of prevention. The sooner we start electrifying everything thee sooner we can get down to the work we can do electrify our entire system. We need a strong and iterative plan to make progress to get this city ready for the inevitable conclusion of what we’ve doing doing to this climate for the last 100 years.

Michelle Hillaby: I agree with Keith Page to an extent; but at what cost. We have to think about each step of the way and can we afford it. But it is a goal we need to be always moving towards and balancing it with out budget.

Jesse Woodward: For me the general thing I’ve learned over the last while is that this town is tiny, and lets be honest, we could be totally green and we’re a tiny population. What we can do is be a model and move forward on that and get rid of this idea that we can affect climate change. Canada is 2% of global: nelson is .00000—right? We can be come a model, and show other small towns that it can be done. But it’s going to be drastic, and I’m not sure we’re all ready for this. I’ve seen this over the last 7 years just get worse and worse. We’re going to have to deal with it, so lets start.

Lislie Payne: In the last short while I’ve been reading 100s of pages, that we have many many of the plans in place that will move us forward in mitigation and adaptation in climate change. What we need to do is review many of those documents and make sure that our focus I son the things we can affect most clearly. There may be a cost associated, but lets think of the cost of not taking action now!

Brian Shields: Wanted to speak to what we can do right now; as a life long public works guide I wrote the how to on how to make public works environmentally friendly. Those can all be done tomorrow for very very little cost. Move on to the buildings, we can do better there. We talk about being a small town and we can only do so much, but we’re a small town with a big voice. I’ve got friends ear in Ottawa and Victoria. I want to be the representative for nelson. All we can do is our best, the easy stuff we can knock off right away.


Question 3: Local Gov. Can’t Deal with Climate Change

Climate change is a global problem is being addressed by international, provincial, and federal bodies with the necessary resources to actually reduce Be it resolved that climate change cannot be dealt with at the municipal level and the city and tax payers should not be burdened with resolving this problem

Margaret Stacey: Saying Yes and No, the climate change issue is global, us in our small corner must be doing something as well. To do these things we need provincial and federal support, I would like to see some large industry come out of this in nelson. And all the strategies we have set out in the path to 2040.

Britney Anderson: Do not adopt this resolution, think globally and act locally. The only we we can help mitigate and adapt to climate change. There’s a quote out there that says a small amount of citizens can’t make a change, but– I’m butchering that. We do need to consider this, we’re in a very fortunate situation where we have the power to make this change. We’re an affluent society with a small downtown core. There’s more we can be doing to address climate change.

Janice Morrison: Stand in opposition to this, if we don’t start here at the grassroots, than there is no place to start. We are the stewards and we need to lead going forward. We can do lots of things at he municipal level. We can make our city vehicles electric. We can generate more hydro electric power. We can further look at micro-hydro, we can look at valving systems coming down the hill. We can look at Gowman narrows and cottonwood lake and falls area. We have an emergency plan being developed, emergency planning starts at home, each individual can do this in our own homes and our own back yards. We can do a lot of these issues at home and we can be the leaders like many of our fellow councillors have spoken to.

Stephanie Wiggins: I cannot support this resolution, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by what’s happening, and lose hope. But we can’t let that happen here. We have to take responsibility a t the individual and community level to support one another and be there for one another. This can start with small things like 100% renewable energy. One thing that isn’t touched on that I think is important is that when we are being forced inside because of the smoke that the city I making room for people to come together in community to support our mental health by having activities and emotional support for all of us and what’s happening is scary. But if we can come together we can make some really strict policies we can be a leader and, and, being community together.

VOTE: All nott in favour

Question 4: Implement Active Transport Strategy

Be it resolved that nelson actually implement the already passed “active transport strategy” by: 1. Eliminating some car parking and road space to provide room for bicycle lanes and bicycle lanes and bicycle parking 2. Enacting a bylaw that a) declares down town nelson an idle-free zone, b) posts signs, and c) asserts penalties for unnecessary car idling

Robin Cherbo: city liaison to the street car society; get rid of the diesel buses in town and replace them with electric street cars. Also I’ve been pushing to activate and implement this transportation plan. Talking with a doctor friend of ours, make high street a one way and half for bicycles. For years, nelson avenue should have bike lanes. There’s lots we can do and we have already declared nelson an Idle free zone. We have grandfathered the a&w drive through. I’ll certainly push this when I get re-elected.

Robbie Kalabis: Council I think this is a no brainier, active transportation not only helps protect the environment and climate change, promotes wellness and brings everyone together, nelson is unique in the Kootenays so it would make a ton of sense for us to work with the cycling coalition, the provincial government to implement the strategy; setup places for people coming from out of town; lots of people come from out of town, but they can park on the edge of town and bike in. Use bikes that are already setup and store their own bicycle here. There should be through fairs; block of part of baker like Kimberly’s platzl.

Travis Hauck: As an avid cyclist, bike lanes 100%: widen some shoulders so they can have some space. Embrace electric bikes and people commuting to and from work; lots of parents picking up kids with bikes. We have to work hard to get home from down town if we live up hill, the electric bikes are taking people there; some kind of recognition for these people, even signs. Drivers and cyclists need to use signals, talk about it so everyone can be safe. Roundabouts could be used, we have a lot of streets, 8-9am there’s not a lot of traffic, baker gridlock could–maybe the cars running east to west could just let the traffic flow, if the signs could do that for us.

Bob Adams: I think we don’t need to reduce the car parking spaces, we need to eliminate cars coming into town. 90% of the cars have on person in it; the driver. I’m not sure how we could enforce that; but that would eliminate the numbers of cars in the city. Another things is, idling, if you want to eliminate it you need to get rid of the left turn signals at the traffic lights. They have to wait, they have to idle. All those cars behind the left turn signals are idling. You must eliminate the turn signals.

Joe Reiner: I think it’s evident from the turn out tonight that we are an environmentally concious community. Bicycle lanes are something most of us want, as we look to the future to re-envision our future, and rebuilding baker street, bicycle lanes are a smart option. We should look forward and support the ecosave program and grow it, to support businesses and citizens that support environmentally concious building concepts and use environmentally friendly appliances.

Jesse: with this general idea I thought would be really great is to have Kootenay car share but for electric bikes. So hubs around town, some system to take it up hill to get the bikes up and down the hill. But basically a system of charging and renting bikes like Kootenay car share–three seasons a year. Everyone who works up hill to not bring their car and clog up downtown. Not outrageous. Probably grants we can get—become a model. Become a forward thinking town.

VOTE: Unanimous

Question 5: One-time Tax

Be it resolved that nelson consider a special one-time municipal tax increase to ensure adequate resources to prevent a wildfire disaster in the city, and that nelson develop a sufficiently funded program to work with RDCK and private landowners to decrease fire risk and provide incentives for those taking action and penalties for those not acting

Deb Kozak: I agree that we need appropriate wildfire mitigation, but I’d like to take a second thought about a taxation increase. I’d like to refer it to our next meeting to research this. At the regional table we’ve received funding to do projects in 4 areas surrounding nelson. The money should be coming from the province, I’d like us to take a second look. I fully agree we need the private landowners to help out. We could probably look at making our fire department to do assessments for firesmart, I think we can stiffen up those rules. Move it to the next meeting.

Robbie Kalabis: I think this is a huge issue that we need to tackle, it comes back to the individual. We need to being everyone together to market his happen, it’ll require lobbying with the regional district and the periphery of nelson. Maybe there”s a way to manage the forests around and above Nelson. Bring fire crews into nelson when not actively fighting fires to eliminate fuel hazard. I would hold off on making this decision for now.

Britney Anderson: I’m deeply committed to adapting to climate change, I belies wildfire mitigation is critical. I cannot support the adoption of this because it does not specify how much this tax increase is or how we’re going to be using this. We cannot just levy taxes without having the proper information to determine how this will be used and how much. We don’t have enough information to make an informed decision at this time.

Keith Page: I also think, I also agree with what the mayor has said, in what this needs to look like. It need to go to city staff to see what this would like like. What I would like to tie to this is lets get a detailed budget of what this is going to cost. I’d like to build into this, something that if the funding isn’t coming online, maybe 6mo from now maybe a year form now; pass it and say we’ll fund it if we can’t get resources elsewhere. If after one year we don’t have funding, we should being this into focus. I would consider it if we can’t find other funding, send the signal up the line. We need to create predictabilities for our citizens and businesses.

Robin Cherbo: I’m opposed to this resolution; we shouldn’t need to raise taxes to do this. The government has 4billion to pay for the trans-mountain pipeline, they should have the money to pay for fire mitigation. The provincial government handed out money to do fire mitigation, but it’s slowly decreased. The province and the federal government need to up the anti. Look at what the province spends to fight fires! If we had that we’d be well off the mark

Rik Logtenberg: I would point out to my fellow councillors that this resolution says that nelson should “consider”. If we don’t consider it now, what signal does that send up stream, what does it send to the province and the feds. We need to show interest in order to bring in matching funds. We’re the primary stakeholders of the forest around us, if the province and feds don’t see we’re at least interested in considering that we’re not going to get their interest/time. It’s just a consideration. I hardly recommend that we pass this resolution.

Janice Morrison: I’m kind of a research nerd so I came prepared. I don’t support going to taxation for a number of reasons, I’m a fiscally responsible person, but thee BC government did start the forest enhancement society of British Columbia, 45 million, we’ve been working with them. There’s going to be prescription Anderson, Giveout, Five Mile and treatment plan for 2019. We don’t have to get this right away. There’s work going on in Mountain creek, selas creek in 2019. I’ve done my research on this, we’ve been working on this, and we’re going to keep pushing forward. We don’t need to look at taxation quite yet.

John Dooley: Would like to speak in favour. The reality is the city of nelson has been putting money into this. We’ve funded out fire, and Blackwell and associates to do studies around nelson. We have been using tax payer dollars for this. We need to continue investing in this type of work. A lot of that work needs to be done within the city boundaries. Just imagine if we allow our interchanges to continue the way they were this summer. We need to be much more aggressive to clean up our own boulevards and reduce fuel around the edges of our city. We have several projects moving forward, there’s the private sector that can also help us, they need some help on stumpage to remove some timber. happening with Anderson and selace creek. We don’t have time to wait around.

Vote: opposed, Robbie Kalabis, John Dooley, Brian Shields, Robbie Kalabis, Lislie Payne, Michelle Hillaby

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